On Gestational Diabetes: My Story

So you just got the diagnosis: You have gestational diabetes. I have what in the what? Me?!

This diagnosis is likely to throw any expecting mom for a major loop, and an adverse reaction is completely normal. It's terrifying to find out that you have a disorder that you know nothing about, and that it could potentially put your precious little one in danger. Read on for some helpful tips on how to survive this complex and overwhelming diagnosis.

I didn't get my Glucose Tolerance Test until week 29. I’m a natural worrier, so, my entire pregnancy, every little thing made me panic unnecessarily. When I bumped my tummy a little too hard against something, encountered someone smoking across the parking lot and accidentally inhaled a little air before being a mile away, or maybe didn't microwave my deli meat quite long enough, I would be sure I had done irreparable damage to my child.

READ MORE: What To Know About Gestational Diabetes

The one thing I was absolutely NOT worried about was having gestational diabetes. I was so smug drinking the drink, gagging, and knowing my body would put the kibosh on all that sugar in no time. My blood sugar was going to be so low an hour afterwards...I just knew it. I've always been an active, relatively healthy individual and was a little too sure of myself as the lab tech drew my blood and told me I'd be notified if further testing was needed. 

I skipped out to my car after the test and dreamed about my baby, and if he'd be a doctor or a lawyer or maybe even a pro-NBA player because the possibilities are endless, right? Being pregnant is hard work, so daydreaming can really help to get you through the heartburn. I did pull over three different times on the way home to gag and once to throw up mixed in with some fun dry heaving. So, you see, I didn't have gestational diabetes. It was the furthest thing from my mind. I hadn't even really kept food down since the pregnancy test registered positive and sugar hadn't appealed to me in months!

Two days later, because I had growing a human on my mind non-stop, I left my cell phone at home and went through a whole day of work without it. When I finally got home around six in the evening, I had a message from my doctor's nurse. "Hi, Jessica. I'm calling with the results of your glucose tolerance test. Please call me back at your earliest convenience." Why did the tone of her voice indicate something was wrong? My stomach did a little nose dive, but recovered quickly. It was just nurse tone. All nurses need to be professional, and not give anything away in a voicemail. I didn't need to worry, but I did. A little.

Unfortunately, since the office was already closed for the day I couldn't call back and I figured I'd passed the test anyway, so no big deal. I went about my night, watched TV, ate some dinner and didn't think twice about the carb count because I'd never had to and I certainly wasn't going to have to start anytime soon. I'd call the doctor in the morning and get my "You passed with flying colors!" diagnosis. I still didn't bother checking my results online because why would I? I knew this wasn't a problem I would ever have to deal with.

The next morning, I treated myself to a plain Eggo waffle (one of the only things that strangely appealed to me always) and drove to work smiling and enjoying talk radio.

I decided to call the OBGYN office back to get my results just so they wouldn't have to call me again. They put me on hold, and I sung along to Taylor Swift on my car radio as I waited patiently for someone to pick up.

After about five minutes, a nurse came onto the line, and my GD adventure began with the words, "You failed your glucose tolerance test. Your blood sugar was 152 and we like it to be under 140. You will need to come in for the follow up three hour test." No woman ever wants to hear that they are failing at anything in their pregnancy, even if it isn't what is meant. The stigma of the way it's said is totally not nice or cool. Maybe we could just say, "Oh, honey, your blood is extra sweet." That would be much better.

I was shocked. I was dismayed. I was panicking. What if I had GD and the carby waffle I had just eaten was killing my baby? What was I supposed to be eating? What is GD anyway? It was something other people got, but certainly not me!

So, long story short, I went back to the lab, and I had it. I don't want to dwell too much more on how depressing it was to find out that ice cream and hot, buttered rolls were off limits. I want to talk about the fact that this diagnosis, although disheartening, actually turned out to be a very good thing for me.

At my last doctor's appointment, I had gained 7 pounds in one month. I was retaining water and my hands, feet and face were swelling more and more by the day. After I found out I had extra sweet blood, I went to a gestational diabetes class at the hospital where I learned how to eat and how to test my blood sugar. After following this new diet for just a few short days, all of my swelling went away. At my next doctor's appointment I had lost 5 pounds despite my growing belly.

This is the first great thing about having GD: I was able to control my weight so easily because there was no way in hell I was going to eat anything that would risk my baby's safety. I admittedly hated my food restrictions, but there's nothing wrong with eating lots of vegetables and whole grains when everything put in your body goes straight to your little one.

The second great thing about it was the joy I found in eating my favorite foods after I delivered my treasured tot. The ability to eat whatever I wanted greatly tempered the utter exhaustion and pain down there after the delivery. Eating delicious food, and savoring every bite, got me through those first completely wonderful but also overwhelming weeks of mommyhood.

A gestational diabetes diagnosis can be scary and overwhelming, but, armed with the right tools, moms-to-be with GD can take many positive things with them away from the experience. How sweet is that?

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